“For all the women who thought they were mad” by @zawe - Saw it on Monday @hackneyshowroom as part of the For All the Women Symposium around WOC’s experience of the mental health system. Still processing. It hasn’t quite settled in my mind yet even though it feels as though it has somehow always been embedded in my bones. That’s the thing about this disarmingly, emotionally charged play; it’s intimate and familiar but also pushes you back and for long enough to glimpse the uncomfortable truths of the characters’ experiences. Then just as quickly it pulls you back into the confusion. Abstract in form, in some ways it operates like a psychological thriller. The narrative twists, bends, teases and then suddenly runs away from you. But it also has the earthy, communal quality of a traditional African fable. What is this about? What is it teaching me? How can I help? Questions swell. The all female ensemble cast both frame, highlight, comment upon and attempt to intercept the action but to no avail. The central character seems to be on a fast train to her own demise. Something in the base of your stomach knows but still you think “we could save her.” We. A word that permeates the piece. The We is closely juxtaposed with the I - singular and seemingly isolated, yet so close. This is the tragedy of mental health suffering. We are right there when it is happening. We are always right there and yet it seems like we/ they exist in another world. Do they? The tragedy of this notion is electric and it is magnified by the way the writer makes water of time and space. The future, past and present exist in the here, there, any and everywhere - equally. Fluid. It’s disorientating. Where are we? Who are they? Why is nobody able to catch her before she falls? We enter the madness and experience both the complexity and simplicity of its entrails. The system is broken. We worship a broken structure and aim to scale it till we reach the top. There is no top. We do not ever really make it into the club.
Watch the play. Enter the thinking around the themes
Runs til Nov 9th.